Noughts & Crosses’ Critical Essay – Sympathy for Callum

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Noughts & Crosses’

Critical Essay – Sympathy for Callum

In your introduction you should mention the following:

  • The title of the play

  • The author (in this case who adapted the novel into a play and the original author of the text)

  • Refer to the question, using the wording where necessary, to explain what your essay will look at and specify any particular techniques that you will be concentrating on

N.B. Try to avoid common introduction clichés, such as ‘A play I have read in class is…’ or ‘In this essay I am going to…’
Paragraph 2 – Brief Summary

Outline briefly the world created in the play and the key events which happen to the main characters. Some of the key points to mention are:

  • Introduce the characters of Callum and Sephy and explain the difference in their race/backgrounds

  • Mention their close friendship which develops during the play into them becoming lovers

  • Explain the tension that is present between the two and what causes this

  • Include the Liberation Militia and Ryan and Jude’s involvement

  • Mention the deaths of Lynette and Ryan and how this ultimately leads Callum to become involved in the violence

  • Explain Sephy’s kidnapping and how this reunites the couple (in more ways than one)

  • The important message at the end of the play when Callum refuses to compromise over his relationship with Sephy and their un-born child

Main Body of the Essay

From this point on you will use the P.E.E technique to construct paragraphs which analyse specific aspects of the play which refer to your set question. In this plan you have been given a basic POINT for each paragraph, along with a suggested quote to be used as EVIDENCE. You will, however, need to add detail and thorough EXPLANATION to each in order to connect it to the essay question, as well as give a sense of your personal response. Note that some paragraphs involve two sets of P.E.E

Paragraph 3

P – The use of effective characterisation to arouse sympathy for Callum by showing his feelings at starting Heathcroft

E “Being in and being accepted are two different things”
P – The writer’s use of monologue to reveal Callum’s innermost feelings regarding the difference between him and Sephy (or between noughts and Crosses in general).

E“Looking at our run down hovel I could feel the usual burning churning sensation begin to rise up in me”

Paragraph 4

P – The injustice Callum has to suffer while attending Heathcroft and the betrayal he feels by Sephy at the school riot

E“If you’d slapped me or kicked me or punched me or even stabbed me it would’ve stopped hurting sooner or later. But I’ll never forget what you called me Sephy”

Paragraph 5

P – The difficulties Callum faces at home with his sister Lynette and her mental illness. His deep down anger over her situation is valid and we both understand and sympathise

E“My thoughts and feelings and hates and fears were all theirs just as theirs were mine”
P – The death of Callum’s sister rips his world apart and his monologue reveals his anger

E“I hated my sister…Hated her guts. She’d given up on life”

Paragraph 6

P – Callum’s disbelief at his father and Jude’s involvement with the bombing and his bitterness towards the justice system during the trial

E“Twelve good men and women. Twelve good Cross men and women, of course. How else could justice be served”

Paragraph 7

P – The change in Callum after the death of his father and how he withdraws from those that love him and becomes more involved with the militia

E – “Love doesn’t exist between a nought and a Cross. And it never would”

Paragraph 8

P – The return of the true Callum at the climax of the play when he regrets Sephy’s kidnapping and helps her to escape

E“We can be together, even if it’s just for a little while”
P – How he chooses to die rather than compromise his love for Sephy and the un-born baby, which arouses our sympathy once again.

E “Callum tears up the confession”


In your conclusion you should sum up your essay by explaining how successful the writer has been in depicting the themes of racism and injustice through the characterisation of Callum. You should mention that this convincing portrayal allows you to connect and feel sympathy towards the character, even when he is involved in the violence. Callum is a victim of his circumstances (in other words, he gets involved in the violence because he has no other choice). You should also finally show a personal response towards the character of Callum or the work of the writer.

N.B. Once again, avoid the clichés like “I really enjoyed this book”

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